Thursday, June 10, 2010

EFM: Escalating Friction with Mexico

Does not a week go by in which the American-Mexican border situation worsen?

Last week, I mentioned that I've taken more interest in world affairs as a result of coming acquainted with the foreign service and its diplomats. Naturally, my interest in Mexico is more intense, and there is no shortage of news on that front.

In the latest incident, a U.S. border patrol agent shot a Mexican teen. Any guesses as to where on the border this took place? If you took the safe guess, Juarez (can't pronounce Juarez without "War"), you'd be right.

Closer to our future, temporary home, Arizona is pissing Mexico off (as well as East Coast Democrats) with the law about needing to carry documents proving your American citizenship, which only can lead to the harassment of the Latino population - illegal or otherwise. By the way, you have to love the way the Arizona legislature dressed this one up, as it is officially called the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act."

Now I'm not going to pretend to have the answers. In all honesty, I get the arguments the Arizonans are making. There is a border problem, and that state is on the front line. It is easy for Americans far from the border to point at the state and its leaders and call them racists. Though in a bizarre twist, about a dozen states not along the border are introducing similar legislation. (Really Ohio? What, are you trying to keep the Canadians out? Or is this about keeping Kentuckians out? Despite what you might think, Kentucky is part of the Union, and we will continue to cross the river.)

My own opinions are that current situation is like the healthcare bill. I know something has to be done because the current situation can't continue this way, but I also think the passed solutions not only won't improve the situation, but in all likelihood, it will only serve to make things worse.

And with regards to American-Mexican relations, I have a profound interest in how this develops. As tensions between the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico continue to spiral out of control, and seemingly become more strained every day, spending a couple of years there is not incredibly enticing.

But then there is this article claiming that the four safest cities in the United States are San Diego, El Paso, Phoenix and Austin. Apparently, our recession has made us less desirable to potential illegal immigrants, or so a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman said.

Of course, the Border Patrol has a vested interest in showing it is doing its job. Just as the legislators have a vested interest in claiming a crisis to get more federal funds and pass racist laws under the guise of protecting the local populace.

That article concludes with this quote from Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Border security has become the most overused, and least understood, concept in the struggle over what to do about our broken immigration system," he said. "While an election year may not be the best time, the United States finally needs an honest debate over what it means to secure the country's borders."

I certainly can agree with this, and I'm about to get an up-close look at the border as well as what it is like for those on the other side of it. Maybe in two years, I'll have the answer, which might be necessary because I'm fairly certain our government won't.

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